About the website

There can’t be much doubt that Tony Blair’s premiership established, beyond reversal, the use of referendums in Britain. I have written a longer post on the many referendums held during his terms of office.

While there are only a few compulsory constitutional uses such as the unification of Northern Ireland with the South or the transfer of powers to the EU there is no going back to the days of sporadic use in the UK.

There have been many thousands of referendums around the world and a good body of academic writing about them including some fine stuff by academics in Britain. There is almost no writing about the practicalities of a referendum – individual and occasional experience soon fading from memory – a gap that this site aims to address at least for the UK.

And there is the no small matter of two referendums that will decide the future shape of the British State.

Another topic of enduring interest is the eternal battle between centralized and decentralized power in a democracy. So multi-level government and the devolution of power in  the EU, UK and Scotland gets an airing here . These matters also frequently give rise to referendums.

This battle over reforming powers often leads to constitutional conventions giving them a long history. There may be soon be one in Britain and certainly one in Scotland if it votes for independence. They too often end in referendums.

There you have the site – referendums, centralization and constitutional conventions and reform – plus some insights, observations and memories such as the gripping debate that I witnessed in the House of Commons more than fifty years over deaths in captivity at the Hola Camp in Kenya.

Finally the site is intended to complement several good sites already in existence by concentrating on the UK experience. Referendums in other countries are sometimes included because they illustrate a point of general value.